East Anglian Premier League: Stephen Gray’s century keeps Swardeston on top as poor weather returns

Stephen Gray fired a century for Swardeston.

Stephen Gray fired a century for Swardeston. - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2012

Just as the misery of the rain-ravaged 2012 season was becoming no more than a soggy memory, the poor weather returned with a vengeance to prevent any positive results in the EAPL on Saturday.

All six games were affected to varying degrees by heavy rain showers and none of the three matches involving Norfolk sides came close to a decisive finish.

Of the Norfolk quartet, leaders Swardeston saw most action as Stephen Gray's unbeaten century ensured they picked up maximum batting points at Cambridge Granta.

Swardeston were put into bat at Clare College and although both openers, Peter Lambert and Jordan Taylor, departed for low scores, Gray and Jonathan Sole added a rapid 57 runs for the third wicket. New Zealander Sole – who has set a target of hitting 50 sixes this season – hammered 34 from just 16 balls with two maximums, taking his tally so far this year to 13 from four games.

After he was dismissed, Swardeston slumped to 150 for six, but Gray remained and he found an ally in Jeremy Elliott as the pair added 83 for the seventh wicket.

Elliott went for a brisk 35, but Gray remained unbeaten on 131 from 151 balls, with 17 fours and a six, as Swardeston declared in the 53rd over when heavy rain arrived.

Play resumed and Swardeston skipper Mark Thomas struck early in the Granta reply, but further rain shaved 12 overs off Granta's quota. Further wickets for Thomas, Callum Taylor and George Walker kept Swardeston on top, without any prospect of completing victory over Granta, who remain second.

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A delicately poised derby between Horsford and Vauxhall Mallards at Manor Park was also ruined by the weather.

The visitors chose to bat first and after Luke Caswell removed both openers, there were steady top order contributions from Matt Plater (33), Steve Goldsmith (41) and Ali Shearer (50no).

Spinners Chris Brown (three for 46) and Ryan Findlay (two for 50) kept the tail in check as Mallards closed on 199 for nine from their 66 overs.

Paul Bradshaw struck in the first over of the Horsford reply as Kaushal Patel was caught behind and the Mallards skipper then removed the other opener, Nathan Perry-Warnes, but rain intervened with the home side on 29 for two in the 11th over.

James Spelman hit his first league century of the season for Great Witchingham, but the weather forced them to settle for a fourth successive draw, at home to Burwell.

Spelman's 104 came from 128 balls and included 18 fours and he shared in a third wicket stand of 118 with James Hale (75), who recorded his second EAPL half-century this year.

A breezy 37 from South African Stephan Joubert allowed Witchingham to declare on 270 for eight, but the Burwell reply was halted in the seventh over, with Will Dunger having claimed one wicket.

Bottom side Bury were well-placed to record their first win of the season, at Sudbury, until they were scuppered by a rain delay, finishing three runs short of their target.

Woolpit drew at Clacton and Copdock &Old Ipswichian batted out for a draw at Saffron Walden, where Australian paceman Peter George grabbed his third five-wicket haul of the season for Copdock.

• Sunday's National Club Championship clash between Swardeston and Vauxhall Mallards was abandoned at the halfway stage after heavy rain.

Half-centuries from Jeremy Elliott (63) and Lewis Denmark (50) saw Swardeston to a total of 215 for eight before play was abandoned.

Great Witchingham's tie against Cambridge Granta suffered the same fate, and both games will now be played this Sunday.